The Reality of Virtual Schooling
In this week's program, we explore the proliferation of virtual schools. Virtual schools offer on-line education to primary and secondary school students without the added expenses associated with brick and mortar structures and unionized teachers and support staff.
We hear opinions on virtual schools from well-known education scholars Jonathon Kozol and Diane Ravitch. We investigate one such virtual school, the Massachusetts Virtual Academy in Greenfield, Massachusetts. We talk with the superintentendent of schools, Dr. Susan Hollins, who was the driving force behind the opening of that school in 2010, and we also speak with two Greenfield School Committee members, Maryelen Calderwood and Andrew Blais, who opposed it. Finally, we turn to early childhood education scholar Nancy Carlsson-Paige, who talks about the vitally important social, emotional and cognitive needs of young children that are in danger of not being met by virtual schools.
We also explore K12 Inc., a for-profit publicly traded technology-based education company that touts itself as the largest provider of proprietary curriculum and online education programs for primary and secondary students in the United States. It is also one of the fastest growing operators of virtual charter schools worldwide. K-12 Inc. was founded in 1999 by Michael Milken and William J. Bennett, a former Reagan Secretary of Education and Bush senior drug czar. We take some time to talk about the background of these men, along with several others involved with this company.